unless you've been living under a rock you know what twitter is and probably have a twitter account. since I first blogged about twitter in May, 2008 (see I'm a Twit), I have experimented, tweeted, and followed and removed some people I was following. what have I learned?
twitter is not a popularity contest
one of the basic ideas that many subscribe to is, "I'll follow you and you'd better follow me too or I'll drop you." pundits tell you to follow lots of people so that they'll follow you back. this advice does work but is it practical? if your motive is to be followed by the most people possible then maybe. however, the underlying idea of twitter is for people to tweet about what they're doing and for people to read those tweets and maybe reply or retweet. if you have 10K+ people that you're following it's difficult for me to believe that you're reading my tweets. do I care if you read my tweets? the answer to that question is that it depends on what I want to get out of twitter. it's nice to tweet and have someone reply or retweet. i get much the same buzz as when someone comments on my blog. feedback is good. so maybe it makes sense to follow people who give you feedback?
follow people that interest you
it also makes sense to follow people who have something to say that interests you, that adds value to you, and is worth reading. they may or may not follow you back but that really doesn't matter if you get value from reading their tweets.
lurkers just lurk
some people have twitter accounts and either rarely or never tweet. they are the lurkers. i just drop them since they don't add any value to me. i've noticed that sometimes these folks are friends or colleagues of mine and I wonder if they may be offended if I drop them. most times I figure that they were experimenting with twitter and just decided it wasn't for them. drop!
i let almost anyone follow me who wants to follow me. that includes lots of businesses and other people selling products and services. i never follow them back. i have no interest in their tweets. if I want to know about them I'll check out their Website. sometimes I learn about vendors that interest me because they follow me. for example, I tweeted about installing a car radio with a USB port for my iPod and @The_iPod_Store followed me. i'd never heard of them and now I'll check them out when next I want to buy something iPod related. this is actually a really interesting use for twitter: tweet about topics that interest you and interesting people and vendors will find you.
even twitter has spam
twitter spam isn't a big problem. i do get the occasional scantily dressed young woman following me. usually by the time I notice that they are following me, twitter has already suspended their account for "suspicious activity". if the account is still active I just block them.
say thank you
i also thank everyone who follows me with a Direct Message. that may not be possible for those who have 10K+ followers but those of us with smaller numbers of followers can do it. it's nice to be followed so why not acknowledge that?